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Google forced to Break the Home Mini to Stop it Spying on People

'We made this decision to avoid any confusion and give you complete peace of mind'

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Google Home Mini - Telco Talk - 12Oct17

Google has had to kill off one of the Home Mini’s features because it was causing devices to record their owners all the time.

A serious issue with the voice assistant’s touch panel meant a “small number” of them went rogue, and kept monitoring their users even when they weren’t supposed to.

Google has been investigating the issue since late last week, and has now decided to take drastic action.

The Google Home Mini had originally been programmed to record you when you either said “Okay Google” or “Hey Google”, or tapped and held a touch panel on it.

The touch panel has now been completely broken by the company, because it was causing the device to malfunction.

“We’ve decided to permanently remove all top touch functionality on Google Home Mini,” said Google.

“We made this decision to avoid any confusion and give you complete peace of mind while using your Mini. The update will be completely rolled out by end of day October 15, 2017.”

The Home Mini will now only respond to you when you say “Okay Google” or “Hey Google”.

Originally, you could also use the touch panel to control music, alarms, and timers, but this functionality has been ditched too.

You can, however, do the same things by using variations of voice commands like, “Ok Google pause”, “Hey Google play” and “Ok Google stop”.

The touch panel problem was first reported by technology journalist Artem Russakovskii, who received an early-release Google Home Mini at the company’s recent Pixel launch event and kept it in his bathroom.

“It was waking up thousands of times a day, recording, then sending those recordings to Google,” he said. “All of this was done quietly, with only the four lights on the unit I wasn’t looking at flashing on and then off.”

After investigating, Google described it as a “phantom” issue, and said users can delete any recordings on Google’s My Activity page.

The Home Mini, a miniature version of Google Home, the company’s smart voice assistant, will come out on 19 October, costing £49.

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